Valley Trail | photo credit: Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane
By Mary Ann Bell
Vancouver is known for being a super bike-friendly city. In the past few years the downtown core has enjoyed the addition of dedicated bike lanes and in the summer of 2016 the City of Vancouver introduced Mobi, a public bike-sharing program. There are lots of amazing spots to ride in Vancouver, like the Stanley Park Seawall, Queen Elizabeth Park or Pacific Spirit Park, but I thought I’d share some of our favourite, family-friendly cycling routes from outside Vancouver.
The Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region is criss-crossed with scenic back roads, seaside paths and mountain trails, which means that every rider can find their perfect route. This post will focus on easy-going, family focused rides. Here are a few of our favourite bike rides:
Barnston Island is a charming, peaceful island located in the Fraser River. With a population of about 200, and one, completely flat, public road, the island is a perfect destination for a family bike ride, and to make it even more fun, there’s a free ferry ride! The entire loop is about 10 km and there is a rest area with picnic tables and a public washroom. Barnston can be reached via 176th Street in Surrey. Park your car in the lot and wheel your bikes onto the ferry. We went with 2 new riders and the lack of cars on the island made it a great place for little people to practice their riding skills.
Tucked away in an industrial area of Burnaby, the Fraser Foreshore trail is a bit of a local’s secret. This riverside trail, at less than 5 km is perfect for family-riding and there’s so much to stop and see that it can easily take a couple of hours to ride. As the trail follows the river, it winds through forest and over boardwalks. Stop at the Glenlyon Foreshore Outlook for a snack and to watch the action on this very busy stretch of river. Our riders were fascinated by the tugboats and the log booms, and of course, the playground which was upgraded in 2016 with a climbing structure and pirate ship.
Boundary Bay is a regional park located in Tsawwassen (Delta). We started our ride at Centennial Beach, an awesome, sandy beach with warm, shallow water. There are 2 options, depending on how long little legs will last. The first option is a simple 4 km, out and back, ride along the dike. It’s a flat, scenic ride with a couple of lookouts along the way and lots of birds. We saw herons, ducks, eagles and many other varieties. If your riders are a little more experienced, you can carry on and ride the entire 40 km (return) along the dyke. It’s flat … but a little long. Be sure to stop for a snack or lunch at Beach Grove and carry on around Mud Bay.
The 40 km paved Whistler Valley Trail is the ultimate in family bike paths. Suitable for all ages (even the newest riders) the trail connects Whistler’s neighbourhoods from Function Junction to Emerald. Wide and mostly flat, the path takes riders alongside the stunning Cheakamus River, through Whistler Creekside and the Village before ending up at Green Lake. There are numerous parks along the way and lots of places to stop for a snack and a rest. In the summer be sure to bring bathing suits and take a dip in the lake.
Shoreline Trail in Port Moody is a 6 km (return) trail that connects six of Port Moody’s parks, and circles the tidal flats at the end of Burrard Inlet. The trail is flat, divided for walkers and bikers and takes riders through forests, past the shoreline and creeks, over bridges and across boardwalks. There are several lookouts along the trail and Rocky Point Park at the start of the trail is a wonderful waterfront park with plenty of grassy areas, a concession stand, fantastic water park and quite possibly the best ice cream in the region.
The Vedder River Trail is a popular 15.5 km trail that runs alongside the north shore of the Vedder River in Chilliwack. The trail is hard packed and flat, making it perfect for a family ride. The scenery is gorgeous and I highly recommend taking the side trail to the Great Blue Heron Reserve, where you can explore, on foot, the nature trails and watch the colony of Great Blue Herons that call the reserve home.
The Matsqui Trail in Abbotsford is a level dike trail that runs alongside the Fraser River for over 10 km and is part of the Trans-Canada Trail. Shared with hikers and equestrians, the trail takes riders on a leisurely ride past beautiful views of the Fraser, pastoral farmland and the spectacular Cascade Mountains. The trail is flat and well maintained and there are lots of spots to pull off and watch the river go by. Bring lunch as there are picnic tables along the trail, or make a stop in Clayburn at the Clayburn Village Store and Tea Shop. Their scones are delicious and the kids (of all ages) will love the selection of imported candies.
Kinnikinnick Park in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful spot for a family bike ride. Trails wind through the forest and are marked with colour coded signs to make it easy to navigate. The trails have been designed to leave minimal impact on the forest and as you ride along the trails be sure to take in the majesty of your surroundings. Every trail takes riders past towering trees and huge old growth stumps with notches from the original tree-fellers. It’s not unusual to spot bald eagles while riding, and the park itself is home to a great adventure playground for pre- or post-ride.
Located 12 km north of Powell River, Inland Lake Provincial Park is an ideal bike riding destination. In fact, the Inland Lake Trail loops around Inland Lake (13 km) and is fully wheelchair-accessible, which means that it is definitely bicycle friendly as well! The trail includes boardwalks, bridges and a crushed limestone path. Camping is available, as Inland Lake is a provincial park, and the lake is open for fishing in the summer.
Published: January 26, 2017
As a tourism marketer and community manager for some of British Columbia’s most spectacular destinations, Mary Ann Bell spends her days writing, tweeting and posting! When she’s not online, Mary Ann can be found exploring Vancouver’s North Shore trails with her family and her camera, and trying new restaurants in the hunt for the best taco in Metro Vancouver.
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